India (MNN) — Anti-conversion laws still pose a threat to believers in India. At least six states have laws in place already, and at least two others wait for legislation to make a final decision.
Christians in India have faced a tremendous amount of persecution in the past several months, and all indications are that it will continue. State governments intend to have a negative impact on evangelism and churches in India as more anti-conversion laws are passed.
These laws may seem to imply a lack of religious freedom, but the government has made it clear that the practice of religion in itself is not banned, just the spread of it. David Shibley with Global Advance says the states with anti-conversion laws already in place still do technically proclaim religious freedom. Of course, for a faith whose duty is to spread Christ's love and bring others to a relationship with Him, religious freedom does not appear a reality under these laws.
"Even with anti-conversion laws, they still report to have religious liberty because whatever you are, whether Muslim, Christian or whatever religion, you can worship freely as a Christian or as a Muslim — just don't go trying to get those from other faiths to embrace yours," says Shibley. "That, of course, hits at the very heart of who we are as believers in Jesus."
Shibley notes that there is some reason to rejoice in the matter. These laws would not have been enacted or proposed if it were not for the intense growth of Christianity in the country.
"It's important for us to also understand why these laws have been enacted in the first place. That is because the church is growing vigorously, and they are bringing people in from the historically dominant religions of those areas. There's a tremendous demographic change happening in the world right now of which governments are now aware, and that is that the church of Jesus Christ, particularly in the southern hemisphere, is growing at a very dramatic rate. There are those, of course, who wish to stop it."
Despite government efforts, Shibley explains that the spread of the Gospel is inevitable, based on Scripture and history. Evangelism may need to become more discrete, if anything, and organizations such as Global Advance will need to resource their work. For the most part, however, the church will continue to grow.
These laws do still pose at least a short-term threat to Christians, but many have already agreed that the law of their God is greater than the law of man, and they will continue to spread His name.
Please pray for believers in India not to get discouraged from any immediate negative effects, but to hold to their convictions, boldly proclaiming the truth and love of Christ through their words and actions.